Spicing up summer concerts at Forest Hills


While crews at Forest Hills Stadium prepared for the next concert of their 2022 season, backstage something is growing. They are peppers to be used to make hot sauce.

“They should get two or three harvests from these plants, in August, maybe early September and then in late September,” Small Axe Peppers Co-Founder, John Crotty, said.

What You Need To Know

    • Small Axe Peppers Hot Sauce was introduced in the Bronx in 2014
    • The peppers are grown in community gardens around the city and country
    • Small Axe donates the seeds and buys back the peppers at premium prices
  • Small Axe Peppers are being grown backstage at Forest Hills Stadium and the hot sauce will be used in food and drinks at the venue this summer

It’s an onsite community garden grown from pepper seeds provided by Small Axe Peppers Hot Sauce. It started in the Bronx in 2014 with a goal of connecting people to the community gardens and urban farms in their neighborhoods. The program expanded to Queens and now it’s in over 120 gardens in 23 states. Small Axe donates the seeds and buys back the peppers at premium prices.

“There’s a bigger picture involved here, it’s very aspirational and it’s been a very positive message,” Crotty said.

Small Axe Peppers is the official hot sauce in residence at the nearly 100-year-old concert venue and onetime home of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Appropriately, the parties were brought together through music, in the form of New York-based band AJR, who played the stadium in May.

“We were just lucky enough to get this nice little sliver of land, it’s got great sun and good soil and we’ve been able to convert it into our own version of a community garden,” Jason Brandt, general manager of the stadium, said.

Visitors can experience the hot sauce at participating food vendors and, if 21 plus, in drinks like spicy margaritas and Palomas. Small Axe also has its own booth where folks can find out more about the peppers and the growing program.

“It’s been a great way to really talk about what we are doing, and help bring that sense of community to everyone that comes in here,” Crotty said.